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Government announces end to three-year sanctions

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd has announced an end to three-year sanctions in a written statement.  This is the highest level of sanction that can be meted out under Jobseeker's Allowance and Universal Credit. Any person subject to this level of sanction will lose their entitlement to JSA or the personal allowance of Universal Credit for 1095 days. Ms Rudd conceded that three-year sanctions are counter-productive and stated that they "ultimately undermine (the Government's) goal of supporting people into work". 

After reviewing internal data from the Department for Work and Pensions, the Secretary of State has determined that the existing six-month sanction is sufficient to incentivise people to engage with the labour market regime, and stated that the maximum sanction term would be limited to six months by the end of the year.  

Committee critical of sanction regime

Earlier this year, the Work and Pensions Select Committee issued a report that was heavily critical of the existing sanctions regime. The report noted a lack of significant evidence to show that the regime was effective and criticised successive government's failures to review the reime to understand its impact, recommending that an urgent evaluation of the effectiveness of sanction reforms introduced since 2012 be carried out. This report also recommended that regulations be amended to ensure that a lone parent, or a parent of a child with additional needs and care costs, was never subject to a sanction rate of greater than 20%, a recommendation that was rejected by Government. 

Ms Rudd's statement confirmed that the Department is carrying out a wider evaluation into the effectiveness of UC sanctions at supporting claimants to search for work and committed to informing the Hosue of Commons as to what additional improvements can be made to ensure the effectiveness of sanctions in due course. 

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

This article was written on 9 May 2019. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.